The play itself was simple. Ja'Quin Taylor saw an opening and sprinted toward the basket. Jacob Wilson passed the ball to Taylor, who caught it in stride and made the made a layup.
Taylor's basket with five seconds remaining in overtime gave Liberty a 65-64 come-from-behind victory over Family Christian on Saturday night at FCA.
“I saw a spot open by the basket and got to it,” Taylor said. “Somebody needed to make a shot there at the end, and it wound up being me.”
The play is easier to explain than the story behind the nondistrict game between the Class 4A Patriots and Class C FCA. The Flames (14-7) played like the small school power that they are and led by as much as 19 points in the third quarter.
Liberty (5-3), playing just its second game since coming out of a two-week COVID-19 quarantine on Wednesday, showed signs of knocking some rust off while scoring 28 fourth-quarter points to force an overtime.
Having a deep roster helped the winners too. Family Christian had three players foul out of the game in the fourth quarter and overtime period.
“Plain and simple … they just wore us down at the end,” first-year FCA coach Stefson Arnold said. “Depth is a big difference between a 4A school and a small school like us. But this is a game that will definitely help us as the season progresses.”
FCA’s A.J. Mercier scored a game-high 16 points, while Tyler Flugence (15) and Chance Martin (14) also scored in double digits. Wilson led Liberty with 15, while Taylor added 10. The Patriots had 10 players score in the game.
“FCA … I give them all the credit, they played really well,” Liberty coach Brandon White said. “They got us in a hole. We’re just trying to fight back and find a groove again. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction.
“I could see it coming together in the last quarter and in overtime. We started to make shots, move the ball around better and defend better. It is just going to take some time.”
Neither team started fast. The Flames led 5-3 after one quarter. Liberty made just 1 of 11 first-quarter shots. The Patriots turned the ball over eight times in the second quarter as FCA built a 23-10 halftime lead. Flugence hit a 3-pointer to close out the first-half scoring for the Flames.
Another 3-pointer by Flugence — this one with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter — gave Family Christian a 36-17 lead. But Liberty scored 10 of the final 12 points in the period to begin closing the gap.